More than 36 prominent sociologists and educators of the country have given statements expressing concern over the enactment of 'Primary Education Board Act-2021' by the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME).
Among the speakers are Professor Emeritus of Dhaka University Serajul Islam Chowdhury, prominent economist Kazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmed, and founder of Biswa Sahitya Kendra Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed.
They say this decision will be suicidal. Therefore, they have strongly demanded MOPME to move away from this decision.
The statement issued on Tuesday said, "Bangladesh has achieved a number of milestones in the field of education in the golden jubilee of independence. These include ensuring almost 100% of children are enrolled in primary school, reducing drop-out rate, providing equal books for primary and secondary admissions, stipends and providing new books by organizing festivals on the first day of the year. We applaud the government for this."
The statement further said the provision of free books for all with emphasis on school-centered education has reduced the tendency of students to use guide books to some extent. Similarly, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed to reduce the burden of exams and books for various reasons. That directive of the Prime Minister is reflected in the National Curriculum Outline prepared by the Ministry of Education in 2021, where the Primary Ending Certificate (PEC) examination has been eliminated.
It has long been one of the most anticipated issues in civil society, including students, teachers and parents. Even in the National Education Policy-2010, the fifth class examination is not considered as a 'public examination'. Instead, it has been said that the final examination will be held locally at the upazila, municipality or thana level on the same question paper.
But MOPME has drafted a law called 'Primary Education Board Act-2021' and published it on the website for comment, ignoring the directives of the Prime Minister and bypassing the National Education Policy 2010.
Where it was not possible to conduct a single exam in the last academic year, and even this year it has been decided not to take a PEC exam, it is questionable how reasonable and realistic this law-making proposal is.
“The proposed law will increase the burden of books on the shoulders of our students and increase the additional cost of coaching and guide books for parents after a catastrophe like Corona. We urge the ministry to move away from this suicidal decision," they said.
They hope that the authorities concerned will take this into consideration and create opportunities for students to develop their creative talents and look at how the results of the National Student Assessment (NSA) conducted by the Directorate of Primary Education can be used efficiently in the decision making process.
In keeping with the 'Vision-2041', they opined there is no alternative but to develop the new generation through intellectual development and education through ethics.
Among the speakers were executive director of the mass literacy campaign Rasheda K Chowdhury. Moreover, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, Ramendu Majumder, Advocate Sultana Kamal, Selina Hossain, Nasiruddin Yusuf Bachchu, Professor Syed Manjurul Islam, Professor MM Akash, Dr Manzoor Ahmed, Mamunur Rashid, Ilyas Kanchan, Professor Mahfuza Khanam, Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Professor Robayet Ferdous, Barrister Sara Hossain, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Principal Kazi Faruk Ahmed, Shaheen Anam, Professor Mesbah Kamal, Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, Dr Mohammad Abdul Majid, Bulbul Mahalanabish made the same statements among 36 others.